Two Cubans to Die for Killing Police During Escape Attempt
MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Two Cubans convicted of murdering three government agents during an attempt to flee their Communist homeland were sentenced to death in Havana on Wednesday, the Cuban news agency Prensa Latina reported.
Luis Miguel Almeida Perez, 27, and Rene Salmeron Mendoza, 22, were sentenced to die by firing squad for their roles in leading a group of nine people who attempted to steal a boat and flee to the United States last month.
The Havana Popular Tribunal sentenced the other seven to prison terms ranging from four to 30 years, Prensa Latina said.
The court said Perez, Mendoza and the others ″through violent means, boarded a naval vessel, tried to seize it and alter its route,″ according to a Cuban radio report.
The two men’s crimes included murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, piracy and terrorism, the broadcast said. The reports did not say when the nine were convicted.
The group attempted to leave from Tarara, a children’s camp on the coast near Havana, on Jan. 9, when four government agents surprised them. The men reportedly tied up four Interior Ministry agents and shot them.
The one agent who survived was reported to have identified Almeida Perez, who worked at the camp. The agent remains in serious condition.
The shootings occurred just as three Cuban exiles from Miami were being put on a highly publicized trial for trying to enter the country to commit acts of terrorism.
On Jan. 20, Cuba executed the leader of that group, 38-year-old Eduardo Diaz Betancourt, and gave long prison sentences to two younger men.
Cuba, abandoned by its former Communist allies and economically devastated, has promised harsh measures against any domestic opponents.
The death penalties imposed Wednesday will be reviewed by Cuba’s Supreme Tribunal. If that court of appeal does not overturn the sentences, they will be reviewed by the Council of State, composed of President Fidel Castro and 30 top ministers and advisors.